African-American history has played an integral role in the shaping of politics, economics, and culture in the United States. Growing up, how did you learn about the accomplishments and struggles of African Americans? Were you in a classroom? Reading a book? Talking with relatives or friends? How has your understanding or knowledge of African-American history changed and/or developed over time? What do you think is the most effective way to pass along this rich and growing history to future generations?

Paul Newman

I owe my interest in African American History to my 11th grade AP US History teacher. In 1969, she dismissively explained that although the public schools had mandated that during Black History Month, African American history was to be taught in all 11th grade American History classes, her AP class was not going to be using those textbooks nor studying African American history. She claimed that her job was to prepare the students for that May’s AP test, which did not cover African American history. She did, however, welcome anyone in the class to take a textbook home for independent study. I was the only one in my class who took that textbook home. My life was permanently transformed as I learned what was then an under-studied part of American History.